The Price of Freedom



5 minutes

I woke up with a cat sitting on my chest.  “Hey Fee.”  I said.  “You saying good-bye?” I ran my fingers over her stiff coat.  “I’m going to miss you.”

She purred under my fingers and nuzzled against my hand.  “Be at peace, girl.”  I said sitting up and holding the strange cat to my chest.  

The sun had fallen, and I was a little worried about Alex.  Eddie had said he was coming back soon, but why was it so late, where was he?

_This is nice._ A strange voice in my head interrupted.  _Your lovely is at peace with the others._

I felt the tear slide down my cheek and I wiped it away with my shoulder.  “Hey Eddie.  It’s good to have you here.”  I rubbed the cat’s belly and his head and I let the power go.  My grip on the control.  I let it go.  It was probably the hardest thing I had to do.  It was like a hand cramp that came with a death grip on the steering wheel of a car just after an accident.  Or so I imagined anyway.  

My heart pounded in my chest.  My breathing was ragged but I focused on petting the cat in my lap.  It was something Fee never let me do.  She was always too human for the petting and so much like a cat.  Eddie was different.  I didn’t know what he was, but he wasn’t like anything else I ever knew – a dream come true.  I laughed, much like Alex.  I wondered how strange it might seem to others to know that I never saw the face of the man I loved even though I’d known him most of my life.  His voice and his eyes were always the same, but he’d never worn his true face.  At least not anything I would recognize now.  Maybe as a boy.  I did remember that little boy.  I loved Alex and I felt him in the elevator as he rode up.  He looked up in my direction and I felt like I could almost see him.  Ant looked in my direction when I sensed him too.

_They recognize your power._ The voice in my head sounded.  Eddie no longer sounded like Mushu and I was grateful for that.  He was just a whisper in my head now.  Like the magic of the book.  _One and the same._ he said.  And I understood better.

_Now let the rest go._ Eddie instructed and that was when the fear pushed through the calm of the petting my cat. It wasn’t easy to do but there was a sense of calm that swept over me when I saw everything, and then I jerked out of bed and lost what little food I had eaten.  When had I eaten last?

I could hear people down the hall.  I smelled the aftershave of someone three floors down.  Seeing what I saw in full effect was really what pushed me over the edge.  Eddie pounced on to my back and kneeded the back of my neck much like a human might for comfort while I vomited all over the floor of the bedroom I was in.  The smell only made it worse.

The door burst open and Alec was by my side helping me up – heedless of the newly possessed magical cat.  “What are you doing Nox?”

Alec asked.  I couldn’t answer him my stomach was still trying to empty on to the floor but I had nothing physically left to give it.  My stomach ached from the constant flexing of the internal muscles.  “Does your cat talk now?”

I nodded.  But that motion made me dizzy and I started dry heaving again.  Alec picked up me though it was more like he dragged me into the bathroom.  The tile was cold and felt good on my hands.  I laid down much like I might if I had been drunk.  It was sort of how I felt after getting drunk – or the after effects of nepenthe.  

There was a resounding thud in my head.  It sounded like I had a physical epiphany with the mental thought.  How do you get through a hang over?  You deal with it and it will pass.  _Excellent._ came the new voice in my head.  _Your vampire slave has been told to hydrate you the best he can.  Food will help, when it arrives.  You must eat!_

I groaned at the thought – it wasn’t mine and Alec ran his fingers through my hair like I had Eddie’s earlier.  “I’m not your slave.”

I nodded.  “And I will never make you mine.”  He added, though I wasn’t sure why he had.  

Alec’s smile was genuine and he wasn’t hiding his fangs.  His accent was all but gone, “I never thought I’d submit to one so young.  Figured I’d die before giving up my throne.”

I groaned.  He was talking seriously and I was unable to do anything but lie on the tile.  “I know.”  Alec laughed, “With you it’s hard to get a word in edge wise, so now is the time.  I am your’s because you will never make me yours.”  He said simply.  Which seemed to be the case in most things.  Because I didn’t want something was the very reason I had it.

“Find Alex.”  I muttered.

Alec laughed, “Your blue eyed dream boat has been notified of your distress and is on his way home to you.  He’d probably rather someone else look after you.”

I nodded. Alec was always going to be a threat for Alex.  He just radiated dominance and control.  And there was only room for one Alpha in Alex’s world – even if that would never be the case.

So I laid on the floor of a strange bathroom with a Master vampire playing nursemaid and a cat in my head – all because I had to wait out this fucking magic hangover.

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